How to install Windows 8 in a virtual machine [VirtualBox]


I have covered about installing the pre Beta version of Windows 8 [dual boot] on a separate hard disk partition in the previous post, and now I want to show another great way of enjoying Windows 8 features (by installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine).

1. What is a virtual machine anyway?

A virtual machine is simply an operating system (OS) that runs within another OS. There are several reasons why virtual machine is preferred. Because the nature of virtual machine that is completely isolated from PC system, you can safely set virus loose in the environment, test new software compatibility on multiple operating systems or personally I use it to explore the new features of Windows 8 pre Beta without compromising my daily routines on Windows 7.

For the sake of this post, VirtualBox, a free open source virtualization software developed by Oracle will be used.

2. Installing VirtualBox (virtual machine)

2.1. Download VirtualBox (88 MB) and install it.

2.2. When installing VirtualBox you are required to install a driver and network adapter which are necessary to interface the virtual environment with the physical components. The installation will be completed after you granting the driver and adapter access to your PC.

3. Creating virtual hard disk for Windows 8 using VirtualBox

3.1. Open VirtualBox and hit New button on the top left corner. Click Next when there is a new prompt.

3.2. Type in the descriptive name for the operating system you are about to install. Select operating system and the version (choose “other Windows”).

3.3. You can set the memory that is going to be used for the operating system according to VirtualBox recommendation or you can adjust the value accordingly. If you don’t want the virtual machine to adversely affect your PC performance, setting the memory half the value recommended will suffice.

3.4. Leave the default setting and proceed with the next step.

3.5. You will be asked to create a virtual hard disk for your virtual environment. Leave the setting as it is and proceed by clicking the next button.

3.6. Set the virtual drive to dynamically expand and on the next screen set the size of the virtual hard disk to the default setting.

3.7. Before creating the virtual drive for your operating system, VirtualBox will show you the summary of the virtual drive that is about to be created. Click on the create button.

4. Installing Windows 8 in the virtual hard disk

4.1 The virtual hard disk for Windows is ready and now it’s time to populate it with Windows 8 system files. In order to initiate Windows 8 virtualization, click on the start button at the left top corner.

4.2 The next prompt informs you that the keyboard interaction between virtual environment and the host. Click OK.

4.3 Click Next at the Welcome prompt.

4.4 If you have bootable Windows 8 plugged in, you can choose from the list right away. Alternatively, you can click on the small icon at the right side and browse into a folder where the Windows 8 ISO file resides. Click Next and click Start button.

4.5 Congratulations! Now you are entering Windows 8 in virtual environment. Follow the installation instructions on screen and you should be able to enjoy the new exciting features in Windows 8.

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The author is the founder of He was brought up and is currently living in a small town at the northernmost of Malaysia.